Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering


Dr Tristan Gerrish


Exploring the effectiveness of BIM for energy performance management of non-domestic buildings

Project Title

Exploring the effectiveness of BIM for performance management of non-domestic buildings


Buro Happold Limited


Dr Kirti Ruikar
Professor Malcolm Cook

Mr Mark Johnson

Director of Research
Professor Stephen Ison

Research Period

2013 - 2017

Exploring the effectiveness of BIM for performance management of non-domestic buildings

Company Background

Founded in Bath in 1976 by the late Professor Sir 'Ted' Happold as a traditional partnership, Buro Happold is a multidisciplinary engineering and strategic consultancy for the built environment. Guided by the principle that good engineeringinfluences better design, we offer an integrated multidisciplinary service that enables us to respond effectively to the specific challenges presented by each education project.

In the 2007 ‘Building’ Awards, Buro Happold were named ‘Engineering Consultancy of the Year’ and also featured in the ‘Project of the Year’ category, which was won by the Emirates

Stadium. Our engineers work as proactive members of the design team, alongside architects and other professionals, and will provide either a specific discipline or the total engineering input, combining general and specialist engineering expertise, as required. By maintaining an awareness of all the aspects of a project - and not just those for which we have been commissioned to provide our services - we can add value to the building design as a whole. This multi-disciplinary approach enables us to deliver an effective response at the all-important early stages of design, through to the final implementation and subsequent operation and maintenance of the building.

Happold LLP is now a limited liability partnership operating from offices in Bath, Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Berlin, Boston, Dubai, Dublin, Los Angeles, New York, Riyadh and Warsaw. We also have representation in Abu Dhabi, Copenhagen, Kuwait, Moscow, Toronto and Newcastle.  The Leeds office opened in 1989 and has continued to contribute to the Buro Happold organisation in many sectors and developments. Leeds has been famous for its technical innovation and growth of specialist services since it first opened. This trend has been carried forward to this day in developing new ventures and encouraging the success of specialist services throughout every office in the practice.


Current state-of-the-art

Energy efficient building design techniques are used to minimise energy use in low impact buildings, while ensuring the occupants’ comfort in their habitable environment. Designers use various software tools for energy modelling (e.g. IES, EnergyPlus, TRNSYS, etc) to predict and make appropriate decisions regarding the energy performance of their designs at different stages of the design process (mandated by UK Part L). For instance, during post occupancy evaluations (POEs) it is often found that discrepancies exist between the predicted and actual performance of buildings when they are in use. This performance gap between model prediction during the design process and actual performance in use often results in occupants’ discomfort. To rectify this failing causes redesign and upgrade of mechanical services at the Facilities Management (FM) stage to provide the required higher heating/cooling loads for air conditioning, which in turn results in added refurbishment and operational costs due to ‘changed’ energy demands.

The most significant of the UK post-occupancy evaluation efforts to date, is the Post-occupancy Review of Buildings and their Engineering (PROBE) series on the performance of various buildings. Post-occupancy studies are meant to cover all aspects of building performance (space, cost, aesthetics, operations, use, occupant satisfaction, management, environmental performance and so on). They do not take into account the context, in which a building was procured, briefed, designed and occupied. The context usually turns out to have a much more important influence on performance. POEs generate significant data on the energy performance of buildings; however, there is very little evidence to suggest that this data is reused to inform future design of buildings and the operation of existing buildings to meet energy performance targets. Traditional reactive approaches that only respond to problems as they occur are not sustainable in the longer-term, more needs to be done to exploit existing data to develop knowledge that can be re-used to feedback the lessons learnt from previous projects and inform future energy efficient design development. It is noted that currently there is very little guidance concerning the type of energy data that should be captured to inform future designs or indeed how often it should be captured to make it reusable to improve the energy performance of existing assets. Thus, a typical project comprises various instances of inter-related datasets that are held in disparate systems. This poses various challenges at the FM stage as these pieces of information are not held in one single source (model), thus making it difficult to retrieve easily in a timely and cost effective manner.

Developments in ICTs and specifically Building Information Modelling (BIM) mean that building energy data can be modelled into a single environment that enables the virtual design and management of projects to set criteria (energy performance), whilst maintaining audit trails of decisions that lead to the design and management of projects. BIM developments are able to improve productivity of design, construction and post-construction activities. At present in the UK these developments have largely been driven by the Government’s BIM agenda. The single model capability of BIM enables facilities to be designed and managed to pre-defined criteria. For example, using BIM a building’s energy performance can be designed to the pre-defined criteria and then monitored and assessed against these criteria during the Post Occupancy Evaluation stage. To define these criteria context aware intelligence would have to be embedded in the building components. The BIM model would thus comprise of a collection of intelligent components that know what they are and can be associated with computable graphic and data attributes, and parametric rules. This intelligent BIM model is characterised by 1) components that include data that describes how they behave, as needed for analyses and work processes, e.g. energy analysis. 2) Consistent and non-redundant data such that changes to component data are represented in all views of the component; and 3) Coordinated data such that all views of a model are represented in a coordinated way. Such a BIM model would be of value at the FM stage as it presents a centralised FM data solution in one relational database by eliminating redundant information and linking 3-D geometric building data to its function and use. The resulting BIM models are enriched with operational data, e.g. energy consumption, space and asset management and operational metrics. This is a step change from current practices where each data set resides in a separate processes and tools.

This project will explore the effects of FM decisions on building energy performance using BIM processes and tools. Developing a BIM enabled building energy model will allow intelligent data to be embedded and then extracted (at occupancy stage) for informing future FM decisions.

Aims and Objectives

The primary scope of this EngD research project is to examine how BIM technology can help improve the on-going management and performance of buildings. Much of the focus within the current BIM debate is about early stage design through to construction. Less is said about using the final construction model as an effective tool for managing buildings through life. There is a general recognition that this is a desirable outcome, but as yet it is something that has not been put to the test.

Buro Happold has undertaken many POE studies looking at different aspects of a building’s performance and we are also currently sponsoring an EngD at Loughborough undertaking POE analysis of district heating systems. Allied to this, Buro Happold are looking into assessing the determinants of occupant wellbeing and productivity within buildings and how assets can be financially and operationally optimized during their lifetime. Buro Happold now see an opportunity to pull some of this related work together by sponsoring a new EngD to undertake research into how best to capture operational data on a buildings performance and manage this via a BIM environment. The research engineer would, as part of the research, develop and manage an operational BIM model of No. 1 Angel Square (the new Cooperative Group head office).

The model will be focused on the engineering systems within the building (HVAC, lighting etc.) It is intended that the model will be used as a basis for the ongoing facilities management of the building and therefore 'intelligent' components will be input into the model, resulting in a fully Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) compatible database.

The energy consumption of the building will also be a key metric and must be reflected within the information model. Areas such as 'intelligent' metering will be investigated and incorporated where appropriate. The purpose of the modelling is to enable faster and easier optimisation of building performance in terms of energy, without compromising occupancy comfort or the user experience.

A key element of the role will be to act as a central knowledge 'hub' for the gathering of data and developing BIM in this manner throughout Buro Happold and the dissemination of this knowledge within the practice.

Research Aim

To investigate how BIM can be used effectively for post occupancy evaluation, facilities management and data management.

Research Objectives

  1. Conduct a state-of-the-art review of Energy Performance Modelling and Monitoring tools/processes;
  2. Devise a method to capture and manage operational building performance data, in a BIM environment;
  3. Develop and implement a pilot study using the input from the objectives above to demonstrate the use of BIM for managing building energy data for facilities management;
  4. and Synthesize the work to make recommendations for effective use of BIM for POE, FM and building energy data.

Proposed Research Design and Methods

The proposed research will use appropriate methods that are needed to realise each objective. For this research a number of research methodologies will be used including; a thorough literature review of existing energy performance practices; reviewing Government mandates concerning BIM use and energy consumption, related developments within the academic and industrial communities; interviews (e.g. teams from the Cooperative Group head office) and case studies with relevant stakeholders (designers, building services engineers, facilities managers, energy modeling teams and the BIM teams); development of an integrated BIM model that realises the benefits and outcomes (listed below); and finally synthesizing the research findings to make recommendations for effective use of BIM for POE, FM and building energy data.

Expected Benefits and Outcomes

A single, intelligent BIM model for the Cooperative Head Office that:

Links disparate data-sets that affect a building’s energy performance. For example, linking building services component data, energy metering data and operational data;Provides design and operational teams with intelligence linked with the genetic make-up of the building;Understands the implications of decision making (at FM stage) on building’s energy performance; and above allEnables faster and easier optimisation of building energy performance, without compromising occupancy comfort or the user experience

Collectively the above has the potential to alleviate the problems associated with non-coordinated approaches to building design and maintenance which negatively impact on the buildings’ energy performance.

The intelligence-rich ‘single’ models that are generated from this project, would provide vital information about the ‘skeleton and genetic make-up’ of the building enabling learning from and about the building. The as-built archive would be useful to owners and occupiers of the facility. It not only improves their understanding of the building itself, but also provides them with vital information contained within (and about) the building they occupy. This would be particularly useful in case renovations, repairs, extensions and/or alterations to the facility are planned in the future.

It will help in developing new knowledge that understands (and explains) why a majority of buildings designed for energy efficiency frequently fail to perform as intended. This new knowledge on actual performance will inform the use of predictive tools and improve the design of future low impact buildings.

Gerrish, T. ...et al., 2017. Using BIM capabilities to improve existing building energy modelling practices. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 24(2), pp. 190-208.

Gerrish, T. ...et al., 2017. BIM application to building energy performance visualisation and management: Challenges and potential. Energy and Buildings, 144 (June 2017), pp. 218–228.

Gerrish, T. ... et al., 2016. BIM for the management of building services information during building design and use. Science and Technology for the Built Environment, 22 (3), pp. 249-251.


Gerrish, T. ... et al., 2015. Attributing in-use building performance data to an as-built building information model for lifecycle building performance management. In: Beetz, J. et al. (eds). Proceedings of the 32nd CIB W78 Conference, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, 27-29 October 2015, 10pp.

Gerrish, T. ...et al., 2014. Cross Discipline Knowledge Transfer for Concurrent BIM Adoption in an Engineering Organisation, in: Proc. CIB 2014. Presented at the 2014 CIB W55/65/89/92/96/102/117 & TG72/81/83 International Conference on Construction in a Changing World, CIB, Sri Lanka.



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LE11 3TU

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